The first case of transmission of the H5N8 strain of avian flu to humans has been detected in Russia, its scientists said, adding that the World Health Organization (WHO) has been alerted of the same.
“Information about the world’s first case of transmission of the avian flu (H5N8) to humans has already been sent to the World Health Organization,” the head of Russia’s health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, Anna Popova, said in televised remarks.
It is the first time that avian flu has been detected in humans. Never before was it reported to have spread to humans.
According to Popova, scientists at Russia’s Vektor laboratory had isolated genetic material of the strain from seven workers of a poultry farm in southern Russia, where an outbreak was recorded among the birds in December.
However, the workers did not suffer any serious health consequences, she said.
It is currently unclear if the virus can further mutate. Popova says “time will tell”.
“The discovery of these mutations when the virus has not still acquired an ability to transmit from human to human gives us all, the entire world, time to prepare for possible mutations and react in an adequate and timely fashion,” she said.
Its worth mentioning that in the Soviet era the Vektor State Virology and Biotechnology Center conducted secret biological weapons research and still stockpiles viruses ranging from Ebola to smallpox.